Even Amazon Web Services servers couldn’t cope with traffic overload. A major anti-Beijing news site and an online voting platform have been hit by major DDoS attacks rendering them unusable, just days before an unofficial referendum in Hong Kong on universal suffrage. The websites of the popular Apple Daily newspaper in Hong Kong and Taiwan were both inaccessible for much of Wednesday, while the Public Opinion Programme at the University of Hong Kong was still down at the time of writing. The university was appointed, along with Center for Social Policy Studies at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, to carry out an online referendum on voting rights in the Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China. Occupy Central, a movement striving for universal suffrage, organized the vote from June 20-22.
National: 22 states have passed new voting restrictions over the past four years | The Washington Post
Nearly half the nation has tighter voting restrictions today than four years ago. Since the 2010 election, 22 states have passed new voting requirements, according to the nonprofit law and policy institute the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, which advocates against many of the restrictions. In 15 of those states, this year marks the first major federal election with those new policies in place. Seven states are facing court challenges over their tighter voting laws. The restrictions have a disproportionate impact on the black population, according to a review of census data. While the 22 states are home to 46 percent of the overall population, they represent 57 percent of the nation’s black population. The Hispanic population, however, is underrepresented: just 42 percent live in the states with new voting requirements. The restrictions range from photo ID requirements to narrower windows for early voting.
Originally, it was thought that holding Kenai Peninsula Borough elections by mail would be more cost effective, but according to a fiscal note, it would actually cost more money. “I was disappointed because I initially thought … that we could actually save money, but the extra printing and postage costs added up,” said assembly member Bill Smith. However, the assumed savings were a secondary consideration, Smith said about an ordinance he sponsored to require vote-by-mail elections. His main motive is to increase voter participation. A public hearing on the ordinance is scheduled for tonight’s borough assembly meeting.
An Arizona congressional candidate who legally changed his name to Cesar Chavez will be removed from the Democratic primary ballot because of invalid nomination signatures, a judge ruled Tuesday. Judge John Rea ruled that almost half of the nearly 1,500 signatures gathered by the candidate formerly known as Scott Fistler to get on the Aug. 26 ballot were invalid. That put him 295 signatures shy of the 1,039 needed to qualify. Chavez, who acted as his own attorney during Tuesday’s hearing in Maricopa County Superior Court, has until June 27 to appeal and said he will do so.
Tess Castle, drinking a mid-afternoon pint at the Wolf Creek Restaurant & Bar on a recent afternoon, admitted something she had never told anyone before: She doesn’t vote. “Shame on you. I didn’t know that,” said bartender Danea McAvoy, 51, after selling lottery tickets to tourists passing through this bucolic town of 210 residents. “Shame on you.” The reaction may seem sharp, but it’s because Castle, 28, is in a distinct minority in this picturesque county seat of tiny Alpine County. Nearly everyone in this community along the crest of the Sierra Nevada — carved through graceful, tall pine groves and mountain peaks, halfway between Lake Tahoe and Yosemite — makes their mark on election day. On June 3, in one of the least compelling gubernatorial primary elections in memory, nearly 70% of voters cast ballots, the largest turnout per capita in the state. California as a whole is on track to hit a record of a more dubious nature — 18.3% of voters cast ballots through election day on June 3. Absentee and provisional ballots are still being counted, but voting experts expect the state to end up with a turnout of 22% to 23% — far less than any in recent history — when the tally is finalized in early July.
Guam: Bill would fund new vote tabulators: GEC director expects machines in July or August | Pacific Daily News
The Guam Election Commission could soon get new tabulators if a recently passed bill becomes law. Bill 334, passed by the Legislature on Monday, appropriates $134,250 to buy a ballot tabulation system and $48,500 for ballot stock and coding services for the Guam Election Commission. Guam Election Commission Executive Director Maria Pangelinan said she hopes the commission will have new voting tabulator machines by the primary election on Aug. 30.
Missouri Republicans are pushing for a measure to expand early voting in the state. The move seems like a departure from the nationwide, GOP-led effort to shrink the window of time voters have access to the polls, but Democrats say it’s more of the same. The measure from Missouri’s Republicans, who in May failed to amend the state’s constitution to implement stricter voter ID requirements, comes at the same time as a citizen-led ballot measure that would expand early voting significantly. State GOPers say their version, which expands early voting by a much smaller amount and includes restrictions, will combat voter fraud and help voters make up their minds. But critics say the Republican-backed measure excludes days when working families and African American voters are more likely to hit the polls. The hullabaloo started after Martin Luther King Jr. Day, when volunteers such as Greg Oelke, a retired pipefitter in Missouri, gathered signatures to place an initiative on the ballot that would give voters six extra weeks to get to the polls at multiple locations and provide time to vote on the weekends. Oelke, who often worked overtime on construction projects both in and out of Missouri, collected signatures around Springfield because he said it was hard for him to make it to the polls on Election Day. “Early voting is an issue that really means a lot to me,” he told Missouri Jobs With Justice, a group that helped organize the petition drive.
Ohio voters can cast ballots in person over an 18-hour period for the final three days before Election Day. Following a federal court order last week, Secretary of State Jon Husted set uniform hours today for in-person absentee voting on the Saturday, Sunday, and Monday before Election Day, which this year falls on Nov. 4. Those hours are from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 1; 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 2; and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 3. U.S. District Court Judge Peter C. Economus granted a permanent injunction June 11 preventing Husted from restricting or eliminating voting on the Saturday, Sunday and Monday before all future elections. The hours Husted had previously set for the governors’ election this fall included hours on the final two Saturdays before Election Day, but none on the final Sunday and Monday.
Despite few reported problems with voting centers during South Dakota’s recent primary election, lofty setup costs and logistics are slowing the expansion of the system that replaces residents’ precincts. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, South Dakota is one of 10 states that let counties adopt the alternative system. They rely on an electronic check-in process that gives voters the flexibility of visiting one of several locations in the county. Seven counties used the centers in the primary. Research indicates that the centers save money in the long run, said Wendy Underhill, a program manager with the National Conference of State Legislatures. But skeptics argue implementation of the system could be pricey.
Afghan election authorities on Monday strongly denied top officials were guilty of fraud after front-running presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah unleashed allegations that could threaten a smooth transition of power. Abdullah s fraud claims put him in direct conflict with the Independent Election Commission (IEC), raising fears of political instability as the bulk of US-led troops withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of the year. Abdullah demanded the sacking of Zia-ul-Haq Amarkhail, head of the IEC secretariat, over Amarkhail s alleged attempt to remove unused ballots from the IEC headquarters in Kabul on polling day. He also said the IEC s turnout figure of seven million voters in Saturday s run-off election was probably false. But IEC chairman Ahmad Yousuf Nuristani rejected the accusations against Amarkhail, and said the turnout figure was an early estimate that might be adjusted.
China: Cyber Security Breach Threatens Hong Kong’s Democratic Reform ‘Referendum’ | International Business Times
One of the people in charge of a Hong Kong voting website has claimed that distributed denial-of-service attacks (DDoS) have crashed the site a few days before it is running a poll on whether citizens want democratic reform in the former British colony. The unofficial referendum is meant to be a litmus test over how Hong Kong citizens view the pace of political reforms in the country after Communist Party leaders in Beijing promised change when it reverted back to Chinese rule in 1997. However, according to the site’s organiser Benny Tai, the system was flooded with “billions of visits” meaning that the poll on political dissatisfaction cannot be reached by voters at this time.
China: Electoral reform referendum voting hours to be extended after cyberattacks | South China Morning Post
Occupy Central organisers will extend the voting hours of their three-day citywide ballot on electoral reform to buffer the exercise against a deluge of cyberattacks. The electronic system that had been set up to accept advance registrations came under more than 10 billion cyberattacks in a total of 20 hours over the past few days, the organisers said. One internet security expert said “the scale of attack was unprecedented in the history of Hong Kong” and believed at least 5,000 computers were involved. The June 20-22 “referendum” can also accept votes at 15 polling stations set up across the city – but these would be opened only on Sunday and could accommodate a total of about 70,000 votes at most, Occupy organiser Dr Chan Kin-man said yesterday.
Mauritania’s president accused the opposition on Tuesday of buying up people’s identity cards in an attempt to prevent them from voting in an upcoming election. President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, an ex-army general, is seeking re-election in the vote this Saturday, and rival politicians have called for voters to boycott what they call a “sham” election. The president’s spokesman said the government had received reports that the opposition was buying identity cards “to influence the participation rate”.
A three-pronged wave of cyber-attacks aimed at wrecking Ukraine’s presidential vote – including an attempt to fake computer vote totals – was narrowly defeated by government cyber experts, Ukrainian officials say. The still little-known hacks, which surfaced May 22-26, appear to be among the most dangerous cyber-attacks yet deployed to sabotage a national election – and a warning shot for future elections in the US and abroad, political scientists and cyber experts say. National elections in the Netherlands, Norway, and other nations have seen hackers probe Internet-tied election systems, but never with such destructive abandon, said experts monitoring the Ukraine vote. “This is the first time we’ve seen a cyber-hacktivist organization act in a malicious way on such a grand scale to try to wreck a national election,” says Joseph Kiniry, an Internet voting systems cyber-security expert. “To hack in and delete everything on those servers is just pillaging, wanton destruction.” That wanton destruction began four days ahead of the national vote, when CyberBerkut, a group of pro-Russia hackers, infiltrated Ukraine’s central election computers and deleted key files, rendering the vote-tallying system inoperable. The next day, the hackers declared they had “destroyed the computer network infrastructure” for the election, spilling e-mails and other documents onto the web as proof. A day later, government officials said the system had been repaired, restored from backups, and was ready to go. But it was just the beginning.
United Kingdom: People with learning disabilities need more information to help them vote | The Guardian
So many major news stories emerged from this year’s local and European elections – from Ukip’s European triumphs to the woes of the Lib Dems and Nick Clegg – that one local controversy went relatively unnoticed. This was the allegation – made by local Labour MP Kate Green – that an unnamed councillor in Trafford had been heard to say in a polling station that a person with a learning disability “shouldn’t be voting”. To her credit, returning officer Theresa Grant immediately launched an investigation into the matter. We don’t yet know exactly what happened in that incident, but if such a remark was uttered it would be deplorable, but not as shocking as it should be. Sadly, many people still believe that people with learning disabilities or mental health needs shouldn’t have the right to vote, which is one of the many factors why they vote in far lower numbers than the rest of the population.